Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Internet, social media pose risks to children's mental health?

Internet, social media pose risks to children's mental health?

March 27, 2012 4:15pm

Can the Internet and social media be harmful to children's mental health?  Australian psychiatrists believe this may be the case.
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) reportedly released a position statement assessing the positive and negative impacts of medium usage across youths.
“There are particular concerns regarding the impact of media on children and young people with identified mental health difficulties, but all children are potentially vulnerable,” RANZCP president Dr. Maria Tomasic is quoted as having said.
She added that families and people working with children need to be aware of the range of issues that media impacts upon, to provide optimal advice, support and care.
Dubbed "The impact of media on vulnerable children and adolescents," the position statement assesses both positive and negative impacts of medium usage across youthful audiences.
RANZCP Chair Dr. Nick Kowalenko said social media sites provide young people with opportunities to stay connected with friends, family and the world, and develop technical, creative and social skills.
He added there are health benefits from the media with the Internet providing information about health problems of relevance to young people such as stress, anxiety, depression and physical disorders.
There are also effective online interventions for a number of mental health problems, he added.
But he also outlined instances of online danger such as excessive Internet use turning into addiction, sexualization of children, cyber-bullying and aggression.
The statement makes recommendations in relation to the impact of media on vulnerable media users including:
  • All mental health and education workers should encourage use of the media in a way that enhances education.
  • Access and affordability of media needs to be addressed.
  • There should be public awareness of how the problematic use of media could lead to adverse setbacks in normal development.
  • The responsibility for media usage should be balanced across several levels including family, school, community and government.
  • Parents, carers and those working with young people need to be aware of the risks associated with media usage.
  • Education should be broadened in the area of media literacy to cover issues of cyber safety.
  • Workers in the field should seek to assess a person’s use of media.
  • Measures at state and federal level should be taken to protect children and young people against sexualization through the media.
  • Psychiatrists should acknowledge that they are adequately placed to work with children and young people with mental health problems where negative media experience plays a role.
  • Research must continue to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the associated risks of media usage.
 — TJD, GMA News

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